Thursday, September 25, 2014

LIU magazine salutes Ratner as a "mensch and master builder." Which is probably not what Skanska would call him.

Renaissance Developer, declares the Long Island University magazine, subtitled "As Bruce Ratner (H’13) rebuilds the city he loves, the revitalization radiates to LIU Brooklyn, our students, and the communities we serve."

It begins with a notable, and wrongheaded cliche:
The beloved Beatles song “Hey, Jude” implores the title character to take a sad song and make it better. Imagine Brooklyn as the sad song; the one-time hive of opportunity for new immigrants and lifeblood of the city’s family-run business and retailing prowess nosedived into deterioration and disrepute in the shadow of the mighty metropolis across the river. But over the last decade the tune has been rewritten and given a modern beat, making it a sad song no longer. The maestro is Bruce C. Ratner, a visionary force behind the skyline-changing, landscape-shifting renaissance in Downtown Brooklyn.
Somehow the decades of residential revitalization, including a series of historic districts. escaped notice.

The article continues:
For those outside of the Brooklyn purview, Ratner is executive chairman of Forest City Ratner Companies, one of the foremost urban real estate development companies in the country and the force behind several major Brooklyn projects, including MetroTech Center and the Atlantic Yards redevelopment. Ratner is also majority owner and developer of Barclays Center and was integral to bringing the Nets to Brooklyn. They are the first major league sports team to call Brooklyn home in over half a century and help draw millions of fans to the distinctive entertainment mecca and surrounding businesses. In 2013, Barclays was the top-grossing venue in the United States. The arena employs more than 2,000 people, 80 percent of whom are Brooklyn residents. Big brands, hip boutique restaurants, and high-end retailers have popped up in the arena’s radius, spawning thousands more jobs and billions in tax revenue for the city.
Billions in tax revenue? Puh-leese. And not from those part-time arena jobs, either.

The article continues:
From the perspective of LIU Brooklyn—in the heart of the borough’s cultural district, just a few blocks north of Barclays Center, across from Brooklyn landmark Junior’s Cheesecake and the newly revamped retail thoroughfare, the Fulton Mall—Ratner’s influence as the lead instrument advancing the bold development of Downtown Brooklyn is evident in the myriad of institutions and industries that have cropped up and become invigorated by the influx of people, businesses, art, initiatives, and housing taking hold in the revitalized neighborhood. Recently, the New York State Comptroller’s office reported that the number of jobs in Brooklyn is growing at twice the rate of the rest of the boroughs, with Downtown Brooklyn as the hotbed, hosting 17 percent of new jobs.
And that's attributable mainly to Ratner?

The article continues:
Former Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz credits Ratner with creating the most exciting chapter in Brooklyn’s history. “One could argue that midtown is the center of the city, but Bruce has created another center with Barclays and Atlantic Yards. Bruce Ratner recognized in Brooklyn’s future what others who were born and bred there overlooked.”
We wouldn't expect anything less from Markowitz, would we?

The article continues:
In June 2013, LIU conferred an honorary degree on Ratner, acknowledging the significant role he played in breathing new life into the Brooklyn campus. At the 2014 LIU Gala, LIU President Dr. Kimberly R. Cline, the Board of Trustees, and the entire LIU community honored Ratner for his ongoing contributions to the university. Beginning with the development of MetroTech Center, an 11-building “urban office campus” that sits on a three acres of prime Downtown Brooklyn real estate just a few minutes from LIU Brooklyn, Ratner has enabled an economic boom, creating countless opportunities near the campus for student internships, experiential learning opportunities, and ultimately full-time employment.
The rest of the article is below. No mention of tax breaks, or the cozy situation in which LIU shilled for Atlantic Yards and later got the opportunity to play basketball at the Barclays Center. (When LIU plays at the Barclays Center it can be quite empty.)

In the final paragraph of the article, Provost Gale Stevens Haynes calls Ratner a "mensch and master builder." How do we square that an affidavit from Skanksa's Richard Kennedy that details an increasingly contentious relationship between that firm and Forest City Ratner:
For example, at a meeting on January 28, 2014 when William Flemming, the President of Skanska Building, mentioned that design issues existed, Bruce Ratner's response was to use a vulgar street epithet followed by "I don't care if it costs you fifty million to finish the project ... I'll see you at the grand opening." 





1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:28 AM

    I just cannot believe how prolific you are and on top of these issues, thank you. And also I cannot believe that Markowitz is taken seriously by anyone!

    ReplyDelete